Reader: Those who follow gurus should find their own voices

"The Fallen Guru," Joel Warner, January 9

Om on the Range

Thank you for the article about John Friend, and for giving him an opportunity to share his side of the story. There are always two sides to a coin.

As a yoga teacher in the Denver area for almost seven years, I vaguely keep up on the who's who and what's hot in the yoga scene. Sad but true, the practice of body, mind, breath and spirit has become a business — just like everything else. It was never meant to be that way. I think many teachers, especially the pioneers of yoga in the United States, start out with good intentions (intention is another important piece of the practice) but get caught up in the hubbub. Obviously, the number of people practicing in the U.S. has skyrocketed, and that's for good reason: Yoga is one of the few things I've stuck with as both a student and a teacher for fifteen years, since the benefits are many. Yoga is not just a physical experience; it is mental, as well. I received some of the best training in the business at a franchise that began here in Denver and has mushroomed in several states, then took what I learned, developed my own style and went on my merry way.

I hope those who "follow" gurus eventually find their own voices. Yoga is not a cure-all for what ails you, but it can be very powerful. Let someone guide you, then you need to do the work, whether it's on the mat or off. As for John Friend, I am glad he has come full circle — and wish him the best of luck. Hopefully this new style or branch of yoga he has developed with Vital Yoga will be one shared and taught with the right intentions.
Deb Weisman

Read every word...juicy!
Sally Franklin

New yoga...seems interesting, but hopefully people trying it out don't practice this as a first class. Alignment is super-important, especially when it comes to protecting the lower back. Thanks for sharing!
Jamie Gardell
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The article didn't explain how Friend "lost it all." Nor can I find an adequate explanation on the Internet. As I understand it, he was (is?) the sole owner of the Anusara school. The school still exists, and appears to have regular events and quite a few active teachers. The relatively minor "scandal" may explain why he is no longer the figurehead of Anusara, but it does not explain why he is no longer the owner. Or maybe he is still the owner, though it would seem odd that he moved to Denver if he is still the owner. Did he sell all or part of Anusara after the scandal? If he did sell it, it implies that there was more to the scandal then is being reported.

He looks a lot older than 54: not a good example for the health or spiritual benefits of Anusara...
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Editor's note: For more on John Friend, Anusara and yoga, go to the online version of "The Fallen Guru" at

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